By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ground has been broken in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia on a facility to bring various agencies that support and protect victims of sexual abuse together under one roof.
It’ll be ready by the spring of next year.
The city canvassed other big cities for best practices and found that combining various agencies will better serve families, reduce trauma to victims, and ultimately, obtain justice for them.
The facility on East Hunting Park Avenue will accommodate the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit, the Department of Human Services Sexual Abuse Investigations Unit, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, medical services, and staff from the District Attorney Seth Williams’ office.
“More importantly, it will help us to help victims get the counseling they need so they can heal,” Philadelphia Children’s Alliance Executive Director Chris Kirchner says.
According to Kirchner, under the current set-up, victims have to bounce around to various locations while reliving the events of their assault.
“Whenver there’s a case, and we see 3-4 families a day, the police have to drive down and DHS has to walk over, and we don’t have medical and mental health on site.”
She says co-locating will lead to more effective and efficient services.
Advocates believe the move to one site shows a commitment to children that they’re doing everything they can to ease the process of coming forward as a victim of sexual abuse.